Lynas to shut down operations in Malaysia

Lynas to shut down operations in Malaysia

Key Malaysian personnel will be deployed to assist with start-up process at new plant in Western Australia.

KUALA LUMPUR – Australia’s Lynas Rare Earths has formally announced that it intends to close all its operations in Malaysia, leaving only its mixed rare earth carbonate (MREC) processing division still running.

“In Malaysia, there will be a planned shutdown of all operations, apart from Mixed Rare Earth Carbonate processing, in the December quarter starting from mid-November,” the company said in its quarterly report for the period that ended on September 30.

The report which was published today added that the MREC processing volumes are expected to be minimal during this period.

“During the shutdown, key Malaysian C&L (cracking and leaching) personnel will be deployed to assist with the start-up process in Kalgoorlie,” it said, referring to its site in Western Australia where it is constructing a rare earths facility.

“At Lynas Malaysia, we will implement an upgrade to downstream operations to increase NdPr (neodymium-praseodymium) production capacity to approximately 10,500tpa. This is essential additional capacity in the event our Malaysian operating licence is updated to allow the continued import and processing of Lanthanide concentrate from 1st January 2024.

“In the event that does not occur, the capacity will still be required as Kalgoorlie ramps up to its nameplate capacity of MREC feedstock to produce approximately 9,000tpa NdPr finished product. The upgrade involves reconfiguring certain Solvent Extraction (SX) circuits and installing new equipment in Product Finishing (PF).”

The company explained that the SX work will upgrade 50% of NdPr separation capacity with two production trains.

It said that while the work will be completed in the December quarter, it forecasts lower rates during the March quarter as the circuits stabilise in the new format.

“During the March quarter we expect maximum production rates of approximately 300tpm growing to 750tpm in the June quarter,” it said.

“In the event our Malaysian operating licence is updated to allow the continued import and processing of Lanthanide concentrate, we will undertake further maintenance work on the C&L facility during this period in addition to the downstream upgrades.”

The company also stressed that market demand remains in line with expectations and the NdPr market price stabilised above USD 60/kg midway through the quarter.

“Demand for Heavy Rare Earths (HRE) is increasing, driven by the global demand for EVs (electric vehicles). In line with this, we retained some Mixed Heavy Rare Earths (SEG) product as inventory for future sales once the current HRE price recovers,” it said.

It was reported in May this year that Lynas’ rare earths processing plant in Pahang had been granted an extension until January 2024 to fulfil the Malaysian government’s conditions to stop producing radioactive waste in the country.

Earlier this year, the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, when issuing the three-year licence renewal to Lynas, had imposed as one of the conditions the removal of the plant’s “cracking and leaching” family to outside of Malaysia, effective July 1.

Lynas, which has been operating in Malaysia for a decade, had requested to drop four conditions related to “cracking and leaching” activity, waste generation of Water Leach Purification, and the import of lantanide concentrates from Australia, none of which were considered.

– The Vibes, October 20, 2023

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